EAGLE, Idaho — The Idaho Potato Commission has announced a five-year extension of its sponsorship of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
The IPC has sponsored the college football bowl game since 2011 and will continue to spend $450,000 a year for at least the next five years to remain its title sponsor.
The IPC this year commissioned a study by an independent group to determine the return on investment the commission gets from its sponsorship of the game, which aired Dec. 22.
The study put the media value of the sponsorship at $13 million annually, said IPC president and CEO Frank Muir.
“We see this as a very good return on investment in terms of the media value we get from it,” he said.
During the commission’s regular meeting Dec. 21, IPC board member and Oakley farmer Randy Hardy asked fellow board members some questions to demonstrate the value of the sponsorship.
He asked them if they knew who the title sponsor of that day’s bowl game — the Gasparilla Bowl — was? The answer was a unanimous “no.”
The contract the IPC negotiated with ESPN to sponsor the game requires that every time the network mentions it, they have to refer to it by its full title — “Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.”
Hardy said that leaves viewers with no doubt about which industry sponsors the game.
“No other bowl does that,” he told Capital Press later. “It can’t be the spud bowl or the Idaho bowl. It has to be the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.”
Hardy also asked fellow board members if they knew what a Gasparilla was? Again, the answer was a unanimous “no.”
“Most people don’t even know who the sponsor of the Rose Bowl or Cotton Bowl is,” said Muir. “With our game, the title sponsor is in the name of the bowl.”
The game, which aired on ESPN, draws more than 2 million viewers per year and because everything about the game is centered around potatoes, those people watch what is essentially a four-hour infomercial about Idaho potatoes, Muir said.
Hardy said some growers and even a few commissioners have questioned the IPC’s sponsorship of the bowl game and asked, “Are we really selling potatoes by sponsoring the bowl game?”
He said he believes the IPC gets a tremendous return on investment from the sponsorship.
“For the amount of money we spend on the game compared to the media value we get out of that, it’s a no-brainer,” he said.
The game pits teams from the Mountain West Conference and Mid-American Conference. Four of the five largest potato-consuming states have teams in those two conferences.
During the IPC meeting, MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher thanked board members for their sponsorship of the game and told them, “We’re in a part of the world that consumes a lot of your product.”
He said the bowl game “provides incredible exposure for your product across the country.”